Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2 p.m. ET

The Washington Nationals

Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 29, 2007; 2:00 PM

Washington Post staff writer Barry Svrluga was online Wednesday, Aug. 29, at 2 p.m. ET to take your questions and comments about the 2007 Nationals.

The transcript follows.

Svrluga covers the Nationals beat for The Post and writes the Nationals Journal blog for He's also the author of "National Pastime: Sports, Politics, and the Return of Baseball to Washington, D.C."

Full Coverage: Washington Nationals

Discussion Archive


Barry Svrluga: Hello, folks. Looks like another perfect day. I love L.A.

(Actually, just channeling some Randy Newman. I actually get pretty uncomfortable any time I'm away from the East Coast, so that red eye is looking pretty good tonight.)

Much to discuss. A five-game losing streak. Rosters expanding. Shawn Hill on the hill. Thanks for stopping by -- and understanding the hour delay, as I had to meet with Manny Acta at 10:30 a.m. local time here. Let's chat.


Gloom and Doom: Aren't we be a tad premature with the "here we go down the toilet" storyline? To me there's a difference between playing poorly (ie FLop's errors) and playing beyond our depth. We've had some tough losses this road trip, but we've always been in the game. Losing games because of errors is frustrating and somewhat unforgivable, but it is in theory fixable. If we were getting pummeled each and every night, then might I consider packing it up.

Barry Svrluga: The other side might be that it's remarkable that they played .500 baseball for almost 100 games -- 49-49 between May 11 and Monday. If they win today, that's .500 for 100 games -- a huge chunk of the schedule.

But I do think -- and I know Manny Acta believes -- that they could fritter away some of that good work over the next month if they're not careful. The style of some of these losses, with key misplays by Lopez and the huge blown four-run lead by Cordero, have been frustrating. If you lose to, say, Brad Penny because he pitched great, that's one thing. But if you lose because of things you can control, that's frustrating.


Bowie, Md.: Boswell's column was right on but here's my problem: I won't commit good money (for a ticket plan) if I don't feel confident that that money is getting me something in return ... like a seat with a view instead of a bill of goods promising me a seat wherever they want to put me. The impression people have is that red tape and complaints still prevail, that once they have your CC number you are ignored, so why should I send my money in not knowing what I am getting in return? Fix that and people will sign up fast. Look at Camden Yards in the early days, sellouts all the time despite a lousy team (well, there was Cal).

Barry Svrluga: Everyone should read Thomas Boswell's column this morning. It's important to note that the Lerners have significant concerns about the parking situation, and the fan base has concerns about whether the Lerners are going to follow through on promises to put as much money into the new park as they said they would.

Your view is likely shared by many fans who want to see before they buy.


Little Havana: Ross Detwiler, another strong outing! I know it's early but is this novel truth or fiction in your opinion?

Barry Svrluga: Detwiler, the Nationals' top pick in the June draft (taken sixth overall), has had two good outings for Class A Potomac in a row. I have the feeling that he'll get a call-up when rosters expand Saturday -- or perhaps Sept. 4, after the minor league seasons are over -- just to give him a taste of the majors. He won't necessarily pitch that much, but they believe he's close to competing for a spot in the rotation.

Just a hunch.


Maryland: Does Jesus Flores have any plausible chance of becoming the Nationals starting catcher for 2008?

Barry Svrluga: I just don't think so. Not yet. Flores is hitting .229 with a .299 on-base percentage, which is similar to Schneider's struggling season (.227/.314). But as one club insider told me on this trip, "If Flores played every day, he'd hit .180."

The thought is he needs more seasoning. We'll see how he does in the Arizona Fall League and in winter ball in Venezuela. It's a very interesting situation to watch over the winter.


Norfolk, Va.: Of the parts of the two or three games I have seen on MASN in the past week it seems that Lopez has made critical errors at shortstop that either have directly given up a run or extended an inning. So, why is he still starting?

Barry Svrluga: You prefer D'Angelo Jimenez? You might remember the error he made that finished off the Cordero blown game in Colorado last Friday.

Lopez: For better or worse, this is what they have right now. He is arbitration eligible after this season, a free agent after 2008. It'll be interesting to see what direction they decide to go in the future -- and even in 2008, when the current thinking is Lopez would move back to second base and Cristian Guzman, in a contract year, would be the shortstop.


Ballston, Va.: Um, why is the whole parking issue only coming up now? I've been thinking about this for at least a year now; I drive through the new stadium area every day and it's clear that parking will be a problem (in addition to traffic on M Street). Makes me glad I work at the Navy Yard and can park there for games.

Barry Svrluga: Been around for a long time, Ballston, including when the plans for the stadium were ultimately improved. And it's probably going to be around for a long time to come. When I go to cities like Denver, you can see what a neighborhood around a ballpark can be. But it's going to take a long, long time for that to happen in DC. The next five-eight years are huge for development down there.


Section 310: So, not even two weeks later, it certainly appears like Wily Mo has made an impact!

Not only his 4 HRs in 34 at-bats, but just his presence in the lineup changes everything. To say it beefs it up a bit is an understatement! The guy is HUGE!

Barry Svrluga: He could play tight end for the Skins (sorry, Cooley). A big man.

I agree that his presence changes the lineup, at least giving them the kind of threat they didn't have. But that's a statement about the state of the Nationals' lineup that a contender's castoff can transform things. I wrote this in the notebook in this morning's $.35 edition: Pena has four homers in 34 at-bats for Washington; he hit five in 156 at-bats for the Red Sox.


D.C.: Barry,

Wanted to mention that I thought the Zimmerman story, that you panned, was terrific. I knew it would be good because you panned it, which is a trait I see in most good writers.

This leads me to my question/comment: I wish The Post would let you do more stories like this on the Nats. Too often I feel like you are constrained and The Post wants to cover baseball and the Nats like a baseball team that just happens to play in town. I know they're struggling and perhaps that's the reason for the coverage, but I just feel that they need to turn you loose!

The Post needs to let you cover the hell out of these guys, and give you the space to do it. People keep saying this is a Redskins town, but that's because they've had a virtual monopoly on the sports scene for so long. If the Nats got 2/3s of the coverage and resources the bumbling Redskins get, I think there'd be more interest in the team.

Just my two cents... Keep up the great work, we're lucky to have you here.

Barry Svrluga: You are kind, D.C., but really, the lack of featurey stories has more to do with the baseball schedule than anything else. They play nearly every day, so you cover a game nearly every day. I try to write as much featurey stuff in the gamers -- details from the clubhouse that you might not find elsewhere, thoughts about how decisions were made or what guys are feeling like -- that they're more interesting.

Off-day stories are a chance to spread out a bit, and I enjoy doing them. There's just not that many off days.


Columbia Heights, Md.: The Nats are about to enter a long stretch of games where they're playing only division rivals, most of whom are in the playoff hunt. Given how shaky the pitching has been, the wheels could be about to fall off the bandwagon.

How do you think the team is going to handle it? Acta's optimism works well when the team is winning, but can it work when they drop 15 of 20?

Barry Svrluga: Acta is aware of this. No doubt the Phillies, Mets and Braves are aware that their games against Washington are almost essential. As Acta said the other day, "It could be a long month," just by virtue of the quality of opponents and what they're playing for. His goal is to make sure his team plays hard through the last game -- kind of like running through the bag at first on a routine grounder.

This will be an interesting month, I think, to see how Acta handles things, and how individual players handle themselves. You can learn something about commitment and caring from individual guys in the next 29 games.


Crystal City, Va.: Any rumblings on potential Aug. 31 deals involving the Nationals?

Barry Svrluga: I'm sorry to say that I do not have any rumblings on this kind of thing. Again, I've long thought Ray King would be a candidate, and he's been much better lately. But he'd have to go to a contender who absolutely needs a lefty specialist.


New York: There was a comment about Austin Kearns online this week that said, "There have been times this season when I've felt Kearns was given a free pass by ... certain members of the media when it came to his offensive production."

Have the gloves come off in the press box?

Barry Svrluga: This is an interesting point. Kearns was awful for a long stretch, and I think one of the reasons he was given a pass -- if that's the case -- is because he was the first one to admit it. He hit a huge homer at RFK maybe a month or six weeks ago, one that might have changed his season, and I asked him, "How would you evaluate your season?"

"Not good," he said.

Reporters -- and, I would think, fans -- would appreciate that kind of realistic self-evaluation. He didn't say "I've hit the ball harder than my average," blah blah blah. He took it on himself.

His performance since the break has helped, too. Before the all-star break, he hit .250 with a .323 OBP and .369 slugging percentage. Not good enough. His .296/.399/.465 since is much more palatable.


Mount Vernon, Va.: Have the Nationals made any progress with prospects internationally this year? They had some announcements earlier this year but have been noticeably quiet since?

Barry Svrluga: They have not had the big splash signing like Esmailyn Gonzalez last year ($1.4 million), but they're still plugging away. They fielded two teams in the Dominican Summer League this year, and the last time I talked to Jose Rijo, he was very excited about a couple of the pitchers that were there.

I would watch for more movement on the international market this offseason -- but it might be from Asia. I'm going to look into this some soon.


Section 108: Has there been any talk about shuttling people in by bus from other areas like they do at FedEx field?

Barry Svrluga: Yes, there has. And you want to know from where? RFK.

, huh?


Fantasy Baseball: I have this (sick) fantasy of a team full of linebacker wannabees: Darryl Ward, Dmitri, WMP, Livo --- all of whom can hit. If you send the ball far enough out of the park, it doesn't matter how long it takes you to get around the bases.

Whaddaya think? Would that team be better than ..say, the O's of the past 10 days.

Barry Svrluga: Throw in Adam Dunn, and you've got the all huge team. Maybe Mo Vaughn could manage or coach first base.


Downtown: Do you feel complicit in the poor attendance at RFK this year since you and all of the other "journalist" decided to give your opinions on radio and in print that the Nats would be terrible and that there wasn't any real reason to have any interest till next year? I think a lot of borderline fans stayed away because of your opinions and predictions. Please keep covering the team but let us draw our own conclusions. It's not a beat reporters place.

Barry Svrluga: No, I don't feel complicit in driving fans away. I would hope individuals are smart enough to evaluate for themselves. My preseason prediction -- 62-100 -- was based on an assessment of the roster (particularly the starting rotation) and the competition (particularly in the division). I thought it was completely fair then and I think it was completely fair now. And let me remind you that this isn't just an opinion. It's an analysis. There's a difference. There were people within the organization whispering (shouting?) that things could be really bad.

The attendance problem is extremely complex, and it'll be fascinating to watch in coming years. Kasten believes it takes 3 million fans to operate a franchise the right way. He's got a lo tof wood to chop.


428: Has Acta given you a feel for how he'll handle the young pitchers they call up Sept. 1st? Will they get starts or be seen out of the bullpen? Will they call up all 15?

Barry Svrluga: No, they will definitely not call up 15 players. It doesn't work that way. They will call up Matt Chico, to be sure, and he's a possibility to start on Sunday. And I'd expect to see a couple of those bullpen arms in Columbus. But I wouldn't expect to see anyone called up to play every day.


St. Louis: I saw a quote on NFA that the organization wants Shawn Hill and Jason Bergmann to play winter ball to get their innings up and keep their arms strong so they can pitch 200 plus innings next year. Will they do it and what is the "Company Line" on keeping your arm strength up and not coming into Spring Training with a tired arm?

I also heard that Detwiler won't be pitching at all this winter so he can go back to Missouri and finish his degree, if that is true which of our Future Arms should we watch for in off-season leagues?

Barry Svrluga: To be honest, I have not asked specifically about offseason plans for Hill and Bergmann, but I will. It would make sense that if their arms are healthy -- and both appear to be -- the Nationals would support a plan that allowed them to get their innings in because they spent so much time on the DL. I'd be surprised if they allowed them to approach 200 innings, but getting up to 150-170 would seem normal.

I'll follow up on that and report to you in the $.35 edition.


Minneapolis: Watch out, Barry! All that objective criticism is bound to be mistaken for an attack on the home team (by those who refer to the Nats as "we" instead of "they").

Just ask Jason La Canfora over at Redskins Insider if you don't believe me.

Barry Svrluga: Haven't seen the attacks on Jason, but it's part of the territory. I'm just trying to explain the job a bit. I think most people understand. Some don't, and that's fine.


Upper Bowl of RFK: Since last night's loss assured us of a losing record in August, I decided to think about losses. While I would much prefer to win (and win often), I can't figure out whether I prefer the one run losses, where we almost won, or the larger losses.

Assuming that the Nats were giving their all, playing their hardest, but still lost, which kind of loss would you prefer to see (of course, always preferring the win).

Barry Svrluga: I prefer interesting. Take back-to-back games over the weekend. I would argue that Saturday's 5-1 loss to the Rockies was mundane. The kid Jimenez for the Rockies pitched well, Tim Redding was mediocre, and that was about it. But the loss on Friday -- in which Cordero blew the four-run lead -- and the one on Sunday, in which Joel Hanrahan couldn't have walked the ball across the plate, were both fascinating to break down. Completely different games, but each fun to write because of the intricacies involved.


Right Field: On Kearns: last night Don Sutton and Carpenter were talking about how Kearns won't get the props but should be considered for Gold Glove - only 1 error all season and 8 put-outs from RF and he has made some really tough catches lately. Given his batting troubles, he hasn't let it affect his defense. I think his low key, nose-to-the-grindstone work ethic is great. People often mention this about Zimmerman, but not so much about AK.

Barry Svrluga: I was going to tag something on about his defense, which has been spectacular, but I thought I would come across as a Kearns apologist (which, of course, I just might be).

Believe me: There are times when I have thought he was the easiest out in the lineup. But Dmitri Young believes Kearns is hitting the hardest .265 in the league. The intriguing question, though, has to do with the future: What kind of player is he on a good team? Does he hit .270 with 25 homers and 95 RBI? We'll see.


Silver Spring, Md.: Wily Mo Pena is hitting better because he's playing in the National League. Nothing more, nothing less. He's not more comfortable. He's not getting used to playing every day. He's He's not any cliche that we'll wind up hearing if this continues.

He's playing in the National League, and getting play against National Leaguers makes anyone look better than they did playing in the Majors. Hello, Joel Piniero!

-- Red Sox National

Barry Svrluga: There's obviously something to that. But I would argue that the sample size is too small to draw conclusions, too. Plus, he spent a ton of time in the National League with the Reds, and he didn't come through as a major force. He has always been about potential. Will that potential turn into production here? Who knows.


Section 221: Barry,

Why isn't Acta penciling in Logan as the leadoff hitter for the rest of the 2007 season?

With how well Logan's been hitting since giving up switch-hitting and his great stolen-base success rate, shouldn't he get a chance to prove that the Nats have a possible answer right under their noses?

Especially with how badly Lopez has been struggling all season, even more so over the past few weeks?

Barry Svrluga: Logan is hitting first for the second straight day today, with Lopez behind him. We could see more of this to be sure.


Hats for Bats:1. Any waiver rumors with Nats players? Wondering if there is any Livan-like trade in the works.

2. There seems to be a glut of outfielders now, along with talk of a free-agent signing in the offseason. Where will Church and Logan be next year?

3. Finally -- what happened to the opening day LF Casto? (Castro?)

Thanks and here's hoping the tailspin ends soon.

Barry Svrluga:1. I really haven't heard anything, as I said.

2. Actually, the team has just four outfielders on the major league roster right now. But the outfield problem is extremely interesting for next year. Is Church on this team next year? My guess is he's traded. Does WMP get to play every day? If so, is Kearns your everyday RF again, and then what improvement do you make in center? I would strongly, strongly bet against the status quo in 2008 in the outfield.

3. Kory Casto wasn't up for Opening Day, but was called up after Nook Logan's injury in that game. Casto is hitting .250 in 107 games for Class AAA Columbus.


NattyDelite!: Hey Barry,

To take a question I got from your prompt in the Journal (is that allowed, can we crossbreed?), it seems clear that our middle infield needs to be revamped, especially to compete with the Reyes-Castillo, Renteria-Escobar, Rollins-Utley and Ramirez-Ugglas of the world (wow, I just realized the NL East must have the best middle infielders, period). My question:

Is Smiley projecting to be a Tejada? If not, when does Ramirez become a FA? Should we be crossing our fingers that the Marlins don't get a new stadium?

Barry Svrluga: I made an entry on the Journal -- part of our position-by-position breakdown that the Journal staff is helping me put together -- about the middle infielders and their futures here (Lopez, Belliard and Guzman). Check it out (as well as previous position-by-position breakdowns of catcher, first base and closer).

Esmailyn "Smiley" Gonzalez -- no, not a Tejada. Not that much power. Ramirez: He was a rookie last year. He'd be a free agent after 2011.

And you're right about the NL East. And if you think the middle infielders are good, check out the third basemen (David Wright, Miguel Cabrera, Chipper Jones and Ryan Zimmerman).


Not Lompoc, Calif.: Do you think that Lenny Harris is going to come back next year as hitting coach?

The team under him doesn't seem as patient as they were last year.

Barry Svrluga: I do not believe Lenny Harris will be the hitting coach next year. You have to understand the position Harris was put into: He was a roving minor league infield instructor recently removed from his major league career asked to perform a job he had never performed before.

If and when Harris is taken out of this position, it will be a huge, huge hire for the Nationals. They need someone in this position with the right mix of experience, knowledge and work ethic. One of the more important offseason developments, really.


Arlington, Va.: The McGeary deal! Explain to me how this is a good idea, it seems the Nats are paying him $1.8 million NOT to be a professional baseball player. He won't be able to practice year around like his peers in the minors and at college. If anything this will stunt his development... it seems really gimmicky and I don't see how the media can let Bowden keep complementing himself for it...

Barry Svrluga: He will be able to play from June through the beginning of September. Here's one way it works: 18-year-old pitchers are protected anyway, with their innings strictly monitored. He wouldn't be throwing 200 innings from April through September at this age anyways.

He will also spend at least a week -- possibly two -- with the Nationals in spring training, and will be available to fly in for a weekend or two when the coaches want to check on him. "It'll be like an ROTC program for a normal student," one person told me.

It's creative, and it's no guarantee to work. But no draft pick is a guarantee. It'll be interesting to watch how this process develops.


Meridian: Everyone needs to calm down about the parking. Everyone understood that neighborhood's development will take a few years. No one expected everything in place for the first opening day.

As for this year's attendance, it is entirely attributable to the decline in season ticket sales, which was primarily the fault of (1) TERRIBLE customer relations and (2) the team's overt decision to cut salaries and field a terrible team, saving the $$$ for 2008 and 2009.

So everyone needs to stop panicking. A good team -- and a decent ballpark experience -- will draw fans.

Barry Svrluga: Yes, but Stan Kasten knows as well as anyone that customer experience -- a positive one -- is a big part of getting people to come back. If it takes an extra hour because you have to find parking or shuttle to the park or walk an extra mile, that will affect how many people return -- and thus have an impact on attendance.

This is an extremely important issue.


Washington, D.C.: I'm going to be up in Burlington, VT this weekend and I'm going to a Lake Monsters game. I know that there is a ton of good young pitching up there, but is there anything else to look for while I'm up there? Also, I heard that McGeary might be in Vermont for the end of the season -- do you know if he's up there?

Barry Svrluga: McGeary hadn't been promoted the last time I checked, which, come to think of it, was yesterday. Enjoy Burlington. It's a beautiful town, and Lake Champlain is spectacular. I am envious.

(My love of northern New England is hard to hide.)


Alexandria, Va.: At the beginning of the year, I thought Nook Logan was Exhibit A proving that the Nats just didn't care to try to win this year. Now all of a sudden he's hitting over .300 since he gave up switch hitting? Is he for real? What are his chances to be the opening day CF next year?

Barry Svrluga: There's no question Logan has helped his case. There's no overstating how close he was to being designated for assignment earlier in the year. But is he an everyday center fielder on a good team? I absolutely don't think so. If the Nationals do upgrade the position, it's possible Logan has made himself a candidate for a defensive replacement/pinch runner/bunt guy in the future.

Put it this way: If Logan's the Opening Day CF in 2008, the Nationals better have improved themselves in lots of other ways.


Silver Spring, Md.: Give us three things to look out for as the Nats' season comes to a close?

Barry Svrluga:1. Shawn Hill. He should have maybe six more starts. Does he continue to pitch the way he has -- 11 starts, as many as 3 earned runs given up exactly once -- and does he stay healthy?

2. Dmitri Young: Don't look now, but the guy who doesn't exactly beat out a lot of infield hits is a contender for the NL batting title.

3. The callups: If you see a Detwiler or a Lannan or a Chico in the mix, and you likely will, those guys could change some ideas about how the team is going forward. Guys could put themselves in the mix -- or remove themselves from it -- in the last month.


Arlington, Va.: Just wanted to say thanks for the great coverage (stories, all the blog entries, and chats).

It is a lot of fun reading your writing.

Could you address the rumors about your plans for after this season?

Barry Svrluga: You are kind for caring. Not trying to dodge the question, really. I'm certain we will do some shuffling of staffs in the offseason, and I do know that I'm going to Beijing for the Olympics next August, so I wouldn't be able to be the day-to-day guy all year. But I also know I'll be involved in lots of the coverage running up to the new ballpark opening, etc. The fact is, we don't have everything finalized yet, and I'll certainly let you know how it's going to work out as soon as I do.


McGeary/Smoker: were activated today

Barry Svrluga: Indeed, just checked that, and you are right. It'll be interesting to see how they perform.


St. Paul, Minn.: I know that Acta loathes the small ball and after watching Frank fritter away rally after rallies with pointless bunt after pointless bunt, I'm not clamoring for it, but weren't there a few opportunities later in the game for Acta to put on some plays? There was a situation late where Ryan Church was up and runners were on first and second. He ended up hitting into a double play, something the Nats do regularly because they never put plays on.

Have you asked Acta about this? Is it just rooted in his statistical analysis? Do you think he'll ever adapt?

Barry Svrluga: It is, in fact, rooted in statistical analysis. Acta buys into the idea that the bunt is frequently the worst play in baseball, and I've heard him talk about how the chances of a runner scoring from first base with no outs is better than the chances of a runner scoring from second with one out. He will bunt in late innings in close games with the right kind of hitter at the plate. But Church is (supposed to be) one of the guys who has some pop on this team, and Acta is loathe to bunt guys who might drive the ball.


DC: You promised me and my dad some trivia....where is it?? Pretty please??

Barry Svrluga: Oh, wow. I forgot. I'll put some on the Journal. I promise.


George Mason University: Hi Barry,

An article in the most recent Sports Business Journal talked about the struggles the Nats new concessionaire, Centerplate, will have at the new stadium. It pointed out that most concessionaires sign deals 2 years in advance of a building opening to allow for proper planning. The Nats are giving Centerplate seven months to get ready. This, in addition to the parking problems pointed out by Boz in his column today, how worried should we be?

Barry Svrluga: These are all significant concerns. There are lots of factors here, and as it relates to Centerplate, there are concerns about traffic flow and space, etc., at the new park. In a conversation with Mark Lerner last week, he indicated that the club will have to work with the District to make changes that Centerplate wants during the first couple of road trips next year -- and maybe delay some changes until the winter of 2008-09.

This much is important, though: You, as fans, have been promised a superior experience at a ballpark for which the District paid $611 million. Excuses should be treated as just that -- excuses. There was no, "We promised you a great fan experience as long as all our partners did their job." So please keep bringing that stuff up here, and I'll try to track stuff down as I can.


Downtown: Sorry if my attendance post was kind of mean spirited but some of the interviews you did on wash post radio rip was mocking the teams prospects in an attempt to be entertaining and funny. I just think that it can drive away the marginal fans that take what the radio and the paper says as gospel.

Barry Svrluga: You know, as it pertains to those Washington Post Radio interviews, you might have a point, but lots of times I was uncomfortable with how the hosts of the shows were obviously cheering on the Nats, expressing their sorrow and misery when they lost and wanting to hear only sunny prognostications. I am sure I acted in contrast to that because I didn't want to be lumped in with homers. That's not my job.


Conn Ave: I saw an interview with Detwiler recently where he said he hasn't received his first check because the commissioner's office hadn't yet approved his contract. I think he signed somewhere near his "slot" but Smoker and McGeary definitely did not. Do you know of a case where Selig voided a deal because it was outside (or in some cases) way over slot? I think the Tigers may have this issue as well? Thanks for the hard work.

Barry Svrluga: There was one case with a player involving the Astros and an outfielder who ended up going to the University of Texas, but that can't be the case with either Smoker or McGeary because they are both in the system right now, playing.


Sec. 511, Row 5: Barry -- I continue to enjoy every word in the $0.35 edition, and online (including these chats) -- thanks. It's especially helpful when you make sure to get your stories to us notwithstanding West Coast/deadline issues -- as you did with the article on our Third Baseman.

I'm glad that Spanky has righted the ship and again become the force at the plate that we greedily thought we'd get after watching him last year. But in your unscientific opinion, does he have the kind of personality and character to lead a team as a very young and rising star?

I'm sure that Stan the Man and Diamond Jim will go out and get some veteran presence, but the home-grown leaders seem to me to always be important to a growing, contending team. Is Zimmerman that kind of guy, or will he be more "Ripken-esque" -- leading by example demonstrated over seasons and seasons, not by personality and traditional "leadership"?

Thanks; fly home safely so that you can join us for Bobblehead night.

Bobblehead will be in Right Field for the Giants . . .

Barry Svrluga: Spanky? Wow.

(Standing for anthem. Hang on one minute.)

I think Zimmerman is probably more of a Ripkenesque-lead-by-example guy. But he's just 22. There's a chance he would get into the face of a younger player in the future -- when he's not a younger player.

I agree with your point about homegrown guys. There's a special romance with them.


Sec. 526, Ro 3, Seat 1: Please explain the media's pitch count obsession. I read stories that include lines like "So-and-So was lifted after throwing 80 pitches in six innings." But often, it never quantifies how much duress under which a pitcher performs. Shouldn't the stat be used in context of quality versus quantity? It may be possible to throw an "easy" 80 pitches in more than six innings as opposed to a "hard" 80 in five innings where a pitcher is constantly working from behind or with lots of runners on base.

Barry Svrluga: It's not just the media's obsession. It's the pitching coach and manager's obsession. These guys typically don't throw much more than 100-110 pitches. Your point about a hard 80 or an easy 80 is a good one. Remember Tony Armas Jr.? Thought so.

Sorry for bringing that up.


Barry Svrluga: Folks, that's it. We've got a game to play, and it's a good one. Shawn Hill vs. Brad Penny. I like that matchup on getaway day.

Check Nationals Journal for lineups in a minute. Thanks for stopping by, and I'll chat with you next week from RFK. Enjoy the game -- and the upcoming homestand.


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